Prevention of Dental Disease

Preventing Dental Disease

Here are some key areas to consider when thinking about preventing dental disease:

Brushing Teeth

Regular and efficient tooth brushing is important because:

  • it helps prevent gum disease
  • it helps prevent tooth decay through the action of fluoride
  • it helps maintain good breath

Recommended approach:

  • Brush your teeth for a full 2 minutes (physically-timed) – as it is known that it takes this long to brush your teeth properly. For patients with missing teeth, ask your dentist if this period of time still applies.
  • Brush your teeth twice each day.
  • Ensure that you always use fluoride toothpastes and check the ingredients panel to ensure that the concentration of fluoride is at least 1400ppm. Fluoride is known to help prevent tooth decay.
  • During brushing, ensure that you can see and, more importantly, feel the bristles of the brush on your teeth and your gums at the same time at all times. That way you never miss the gum line, which is the most important part. 
  • Remember that gum bleeding is NEVER normal. Consult your dentist for advice on resolving this if bleeding occurs.
  • After tooth brushing, ensure that you:
    • spit the contents of your mouth out and walk away.
    • don’t rinse your mouth with anything afterwards (for 30-60 minutes) because:
      • this gives the fluoride time to work.
      • mouthwash fluoride is not as concentrated as toothpaste fluoride.
      • rinsing with water will wash away all the good fluoride that you have just applied by brushing your teeth.


The best mouthwash choice is one with 0.2% chlorhexidine as its active ingredient. This mouthwash is only recommended for short-term use because: it stains teeth, increases tartar build-up and can lead to an allergy in some patients.

All other mouthwash active ingredients are usually compared to chlorhexidine in dental research and have generally been shown to be no better than half as good.

Strong clinical evidence demonstrates that efficient and regular mechanical cleaning (toothbrushing and interdental cleaning) is effective in preventing gum disease. Long-term use of chlorhexidine-based mouthwashes (for the treatment of gum disease) is not only ineffective, it has the side effects outlined above.

  • Always use alcohol-free mouthwashes, since alcohol-based mouthwash carries a theoretical (though unproven) increased risk of mouth cancer when used in the long-term. Alcohol-free alternatives are as effective as alcohol-based ones.
  • Fluoride-based mouthwashes should be used in the middle of the day. The key approach is to use them at a totally different time to teethbrushing 


Refined sugar in your diet causes decay (holes in teeth). Holes in teeth can lead to fillings, extractions, toothaches, and infections. An unfilled tooth is ALWAYS better than a filled one, therefore it is best to avoid fillings which are a result of holes in teeth. “Sugar is sugar” – irrespective of where it comes from.

Some common sources of sugar include:

  • Sweets, biscuits, chocolate, cakes, processed fruit (including dried), fizzy drinks, cordial, squash, crisps.
  • There are some foods that don’t taste as though they contain sugar, but are high in sugar nonetheless  e.g. salt and vinegar crisps.

Recommended approach:

  • Restrict sugary foods to meal times ALONE – to a maximum of three times a day. (This is still too much for some patients.) Please consult your dentist.
  • Have your sugary foods as a desert and NOT as a snack.
  • Have larger, nutritious meals since this reduces the need for snacking.


  • If you had one tonne of sugar, once a day at meal times, as long as you follow the advice above, you would be highly unlikely to get tooth decay.
  • If you had one grain of sugar between meals 5 times a day, you are highly likely to get decay.
  • Tooth brushing after having a sugary snack does NOT make a difference; you are still highly likely to get decay. This is because no one (including dentists) can brush perfectly.
  • The only way of reducing the risk of decay is to restrict sugary foods to meal times ALONE!!!

Interdental Cleaning (cleaning between teeth)

This is important because, for the vast majority of people, the toothbrush does not get between your teeth. For most people, the tight gaps between teeth are where gum disease begins. If you keep these areas clean, you significantly reduce your chance of getting gum disease. You also increase your likelihood of having fresh breath.

Recommended approach:

  • Clean between all your teeth (including the back ones) at least once a day with:
    • Dental floss, interdental brushes etc. Consult your dentist or hygienist.


Denture Hygiene

Dentures can be a fantastic option for the replacement of teeth in some patients. However, they can cause significant problems including: decay, gum disease, localised thrush infections, etc

The advice is:

  • Take your denture out before going to sleep every night and soak it in a proprietary denture cleaner (follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure it is compatible with your denture).
  • Brush the denture first thing in the morning and last thing at night
  • After every meal, give the denture a rinse and better still, brush it properly.

For further details on dental health and dentist appointments, call us today on 020 7353 5678 or request an appointment online here.

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